Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Audio Mixing Bootcamp Training Video

Recently I completed a video training course for Lynda.com called "The Audio Mixing Bootcamp" which outlines some basic mixing techniques. The course covers everything from from optimizing your monitors to balance to compression, EQ and effects.

Lynda.com is one of the leaders in online video training and I'm very honored and proud to be a part of their organization.

You can see an example of a movie from the first chapter on the Lynda blog. The movie is called "Determining Your Listening Position" and it deals with find the best location for you and your monitors in your room.

The video course is an adjunct to a new book coming out soon called "The Audio Mixing Bootcamp," which takes a different approach to teaching mixing. Instead of describing the various mixing techniques, it's a series of exercise that will take you in different directions, some good and some bad, to give you a good idea of what works and what doesn't. The book should be out in January at NAMM and is published by Alfred Music Publishing.

There will also be a recording version of both the book and the video training coming soon as well.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

MuteMath "Blood Pressure" Song Analysis

Reader Joel Wiens requested a song analysis of "Blood Pressure" by MuteMath, a band that's quickly becoming one of my favorites. The song is off of their latest album called Odd Soul.

The official video for this song is one of the best music videos I've seen in a long time, but it's not embedded here because I don't want you to have to sit through a commercial first, and I'm also not too sure that their label will allow it to be played from any site but YouTube. That said, here's the link. Be sure to watch it because it sure is both catchy and innovative.

As with all song analysis, we'll look at the song form, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"Blood Pressure" uses a fairly standard song form with some subtle tricks. The form looks like this:

Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Chorus, End

What's interesting is that the chord changes are a little different on the second verse and on the outchorus, which keeps the song interesting. And the song has an ending!

The Arrangement
The best part about "Blood Pressure" is that it seems like very simple rock, but there's a lot additional parts that you only hear if you listen hard. Listen closely for all of the synth noises, extra guitar parts, and vocals that fill in the spaces, which once again to keep things interesting. As the song progresses, so do the extra fill parts (they're mostly on the right channel).

The arrangement elements are:

  * The Foundation: Bass and drums

  * The Rhythm: The repeating guitar line

  * The Pad: No true pad in this song although you might classify the vocal harmonies at the end of the verses as a pad.

  * The Lead: Lead vocal

  * The Fills: Various synths, vocals, guitars and noises

The Sound
Whoever mixed this song did a great job of effects layering. The drums and main guitar riff are fairly dry and in your face (there might be a very short room effect on both), while the lead vocal octaves have a bit of a short hall or plate, and the background harmonies have a very long and deep hall reverb. As a result, there's a lot of front to back action that puts all the instruments on a aural soundstage where you can almost see in your mind where they're standing .

The panning is also very cool as you'll find the main guitar riff on the left channel and the fills on the right for balance, as well as a very wide drum track.

All of the tracks are fairly clean and distinct, while nothing seems over-compressed, a sign of good engineering.

The Production
There's a lot to like about this production. First of all the drums are very active in a Keith Moon sort of way, only a lot more controlled. The doubled lead vocals in octaves makes the song memorable, as does as the vocal harmony cluster at the end of each verse. The guitar chords are doubled in the chorus to make it seem bigger, a standard trick that works particularly well here.

I especially liked a couple of things. First of all the substantial differences between the two verses in terms of structure. They start the same but begin to deviate from one another after 8 bars. The outchorus is also different from the previous choruses in that it's bigger, but also the riff keeps repeating, rather than stopping on the beat 2 of the second bar.

The other thing I like is all the little noises and fills that are used as the song goes along. I especially liked the wah-wah keyboard in the second verse on the right channel.

Be sure to check out the official video, but you'll have to wade through a commercial first.

Send me your suggestions for song analysis.



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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The "Too Much Gear" Flowchart

If you've been a musician or engineer for a while you most likely have it - G.A.S., or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. It's as bad as any addiction known to man. You get that craving for a new guitar, microphone, amplifier, preamp or anything related to music and you just have to buy it, regardless if you can afford it or not.

I've seen people stay poor and living in the equivalent of a shack just so they can own a vintage Les Paul or U47, sometimes several. I've seen marriages break up over just that "one more purchase" instead of buying their honey a birthday present (or paying the rent, for that matter).

So how do you know if you really need to make that next purchase? Here's a handy flowchart that will guide you. It's based on guitars, but you can substitute any musical or audio gear instead.



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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Studio In Your iPhone

Who says that the iPhone isn't a recording tool? Here's a pretty cool example of what can be done with a few apps and a good song, as One Like Son shows how they did it. Among the iPhone apps and accessories that I spotted were:

A Sonoma Wire Works Guitarjack audio interface
Apps
The Pocket Organ
AmpKit+
Multitrack DAW (which looks very cool for 10 bucks)
AC Core Mini
ThumbJam

I'd like to find out how the drums were done since it sure sounds like a real drummer. Regardless if they're real or programmed, this song just goes to show what's possible with your phone these days.



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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

The 10 Most Valuable Record Covers

The Beatles "Butcher" cover

I know some of you reading this will find it hard to believe, but once upon a time the cover of a vinyl record was a major selling point to the album. Sometimes people actually took a chance on a record because the cover was so cool, never happens today.

So many covers were works of art, and so many were just plain provocative, like The Beatles "butcher" album cover that was never released in the States because it was just too controversial at the time, or King Crimson's "In The Court Of The Crimson King" (both shown on the left).

Now a UK record collector magazine called Rare Record Price Guide 2012 has named the top ten most valuable album covers. According to editor Ian Shirley, "While pristine records and inserts are vital to securing a top price, the numbered sleeve is the main attraction. The hunger to collect low numbers remains undiminished amongst Beatles fans."

So here they are, complete with the prices they'd expect to fetch:

1. The Beatles - "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" [limited edition Capitol version] (1967) $112,000.

2. The Beatles - "The Beatles" (1968). Numbers 1-10
$11,200.

3. Madrigals - "Magic Key To Spanish Volumes 1 and 2" (1953)
$5,600;
"The Nation's Nightmare" (1951),
$4,800.
"IN The Court Of The Crimson King"

4. The Beatles - "Introducing The Beatles" (1964)
$4,800.

5. The Beatles/Frank Ifield - "England's Greatest Recording Stars: The Beatles & Frank Ifield On Stage" (1964)
$4,800. 

6. Tinkerbell's Fairydust - "Tinkerbell's Fairydust" (1969)
$4,800.

7. AC/DC - "12 Of The Best" (1978)
$4,800.

8. The Beatles - "Yesterday And Today" (1966)
$3,200.

9. Dark - "Dark Round The Edges" (1972)
$3,200. 

10. Hank Mobley - "Hank Mobley" (1957)
$3,200. 

If that isn't a reason to search through yard sales, I don't know what is.
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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pensado's Place #44

I had the pleasure to be on mixer extraordinaire Dave Pensado's great webcast, Pensado's Place, the other day. On the show we talked about everything from 5.1 mixing tips to the state of the music business to some social media for musicians and engineers. Check it out. And thanks again, Dave!



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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

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